The People's Perspective on Medicine

How to Reduce Fatigue from Prostate Cancer Radiation Therapy

Men undergoing radiation therapy to treat prostate cancer had less fatigue and fewer side effects than men assigned to the control group.

Radiation therapy is a common treatment for prostate cancer, usually lasting six to nine weeks. While it is frequently effective at slowing or stopping the growth of prostate cancer cells, radiation may produce fatigue and urological side effects.

Yoga to Counteract Side Effects of Radiation Therapy:

A clinical trial at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine has just demonstrated that a twice weekly yoga class can reduce radiation adverse effects. In this study, 50 men undergoing radiation therapy to treat their prostate cancer were randomly assigned to yoga classes or a control group.

The yoga sessions lasted for 75 minutes twice a week for about two months while the men were undergoing radiation treatment. In the evaluation, those in the yoga group experienced less fatigue and better sexual health.

Mazar Ben-Josef et al, International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, and Physics, online, March 30, 2017

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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It’s important to distinguish conventional photon radiation from Proton Beam Therapy (PBT) radiation. I underwent a 2-month course of PBT 7 years ago and had no adverse side effects whatsoever. In fact, we were encouraged to work out at the local YMCA during treatment, the golfers in my group played often, even in the cold weather, and cycled regularly on the nearby Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail-Trail (14.5 miles). We all participated in local tours and restaurant outings. One man walked to the proton center from his job a few blocks away, and returned to work 40 minutes later. In short, we led normal lives except for the 30 minutes per day for treatment. We called it our “radiation vacation”; it was the best 2 months of my life.

It is not helpful to suggest that we discuss these matters with our doctors. Doctors are simply not anxious to talk about it and it seems to me when you suggest this it is just a cya for you and your program.

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